We Didn’t Have to Learn a Thing!

This week my girls connected with some friends from another part of the country via video chat. I was cooking in the background as their conversation ensued, and at one point I heard my daughter ask them how school had been going. 
 
“We’ve only had school for one week,” was the reply. “But it was great. We didn’t have to learn a thing!”
 
My ears immediately perked up. Didn’t have to learn a thing? That’s great?!
 
Did you catch the mindset embedded in this comment? Learning is a chore, best to be avoided. It’s better to show up and waste time than to engage in actual work, which apparently is less pleasant than boredom. 
 
When I compare this with the joyful exuberance that I see each day in our studios as the Arrows take on meaningful challenges and solve real problems, I am deeply saddened. I genuinely believe that every child is born with a sense of wonder and curiosity and that our brains have been divinely wired to seek understanding about the world that surrounds us. To say it more simply, I’m convinced that learning is at the heart of what it means to be human.
 
Tragically, at some point along the way, many children learn that joyful exploration, curiosity, and wonder are less valuable than churning out right answers — that learning involves sitting at a desk and being talked at. The value of this learning has little to do with who we are becoming and our role in solving the problems facing our world, but is solely to earn a grade. 
 
All of this was rumbling around when I was informed that a new podcast featuring Acton’s founder, Laura Sandefer, was released. The title alone made me so grateful for this community: “Rethinking School to Foster a Love of Learning.” 
 
All of this is to say that I am so grateful that our children are learning that the world is a place filled with magnificent things begging to be explored and meaningful problems needing heroes to find solutions. I am so grateful that our children will be the ones with the eyes to see these things and the courage to pursue them — that they won’t be content to sit in a desk and be told what to do, but will have the agency and character to go do something meaningful with their lives. More simply put, I’m so grateful that our children are learning to be far more than just good academic students; they are learning to be heroic. 
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